Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The lost adventures

I did a lot of blog worthy things while I was gone, now that I look back.

This time it's about my attempt at bushwhacking on my dressage horse.  My big, not so delicate dressage horse.

Trainer A has been working on expanding our network of trails by exploring and mapping out little loops and connections that haven't been maintained.  Most of what she's found have been human oriented little paths over typical New Hampshire terrain (steep with random boulders and stone walls).  Please note that she does most of this bushwhacking with a cute little German riding pony or her favorite appy pony.  Her usual companion is the newly hired barn manager who also rides a little appy pony.  Not a lot of height or weight going on there.

Typical New Hampshire terrain

Since our main hill for working the booty got closed thanks to rude ATVs trashing everything, I've been looking for new hills.  Trainer A took us out to check out a new loop she found that took us out by the lake and it had some nice hills to climb.

I'll point out that everyone I went out with was on a short, stock bred horse.  One pony, two QHs.  And then there's Theo, a solid hand or more taller and the only one in four shoes.  To check out a newly discovered trail.  Yeah, you can see where this is going.  I was picking pine needles out of my teeth, cobwebs off of my face, and I was covered in scratches from branches that everyone else just ducked under.

At one point I used the 'downtown' command to get Theo's head under a branch so he could pass it to me and I could get underneath safely.  I'm going to start a movement for dressage training the trail horse.  Aside from the height and width issue, Theo's skill set made him a comfortable, easy ride on rough terrain.

More New Hampshire terrain

The trail was a nice combination of challenging and scenic.  There were some steep hills, but dressage pony showed the rest how to sit on the butt and ease down without falling on the face.  It was exactly the kind of trail I want to go out on to work on his brain, his booty, and our trail skills.  We've been working hard on things like carefully stepping around and over fallen trees. I decided that I should go out and conquer the trail on my own.

Remember the bit where the trail was for humans, rough, ungroomed, and explored by ponies?  Ungroomed and pony sized quickly turns into unrecognizable when you're on a big horse that's convinced the last of the gnats are going to kill him.  I got to the top of the steep hill, went to find the descent, and realized it wasn't there.  No path anywhere.  I turned around and there wasn't a clear path behind me, either.  When the heck did I lose the path?  I could have sworn I was on it when I started up the hill!  I started to weave my way down, looking for my trail.  I'd managed to go from rough trail to all out bushwhacking.  I eventually had to get off and lead my horse because it was too difficult to manage him on the steep hill, avoid branches, and find my way back.  By the time I got to the bottom, I had no idea where the path was.

Seriously, why does anyone live in this state?  The camera isn't tilted, that's the angle of the hill we're on.

I was genuinely lost in the woods for about ten very scary minutes.  I couldn't find the path, wasn't sure which direction I was facing, and Theo sure doesn't have Fi's sense of direction.  Sure, if I picked a straight line and walked I'd get to the road eventually, but you can't do a straight line in NH.  Stone wall blocking me from the main trail, gully blocking me from heading straight to the road.  Holy crap, I was actually lost.  If I had to call the barn for a search party, I would never live it down.

We wandered and fought our way through the trees until I happened to spot a serious of snapped branches.  Trainer A's calling card when on the trails!  She always snaps the little branches that hit you in the face.  I wiggled my way through the woods and followed the snapped branches back to civilization (aka the main trail).

Theo stood for me to mount, but was seriously questioning my leadership after that.  It took about ten minutes for him to chill and just walk home like a gentleman.  And my poor saddle, pine needles and foliage and little scratches from ducking under branches with me on foot.  Much scrubbing and apologizing to the leather.  Clearly I need a western saddle for my bushwhacking adventures and should NOT go out in my calf skin jumping saddle.  My poor, precious baby.

We need to mark that loop before I attempt it again.  We need to mark all of these new loops before I try them on my own.  I'm going to order a bunch of blazes and we can go out (with the PONIES) and get the trails marked before the leaves fall and completely hide any path.  There's a reason real cowboys like short, sturdy QHs.  Hulking draft crosses don't really do bushwhacking well.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Let's make a deal

I'm a slow learner.  Repetition helps with that.

Theo was just awesome today.  Awesome-sauce kind of awesome.  Apparently a return to lateral work was what his left lead canter needed because it was much improved.  We started out with some halt walk transitions, getting him to move off a light aid.  Then we did some leg yields off of quarter line, really focusing on him staying balanced.  We had a stubborn moment in the outdoor because mi papi clearly doesn't have to listen to the leg or go forward in the outdoor, but once we pushed through that, we had lovely, very soft work in both directions including that left lead canter.  I'm suspicious his left hip (the stronger one, damn it) was tight and he needed to stretch it out.

Then we went on a trail ride.  A walking on the buckle trail ride.  We did have to spook at the new construction zone, but he touched the big Bobcat attachment with only a little shaking in terror.  Most of our hack went exactly like this.

So why is it suddenly so good?  Why am I not icing my shoulder or crying or panicking?  Partially he's done being dumb for fall.  Partially we've pushed through the wall on the whole flex thing and it's no longer a big deal to him or something he wants to fight me on (at least most of the time).  Partially I'm back out there on a regular schedule, getting him back in his routine with the exercise and attention he demands.

But mostly it's because I decided that this hobby is too expensive and dangerous for it to suck.

I fell into the old trap of forcing him to submit.  I don't like that part of me.  I didn't even recognize that it was happening until I looked back.  I was so frustrated that I couldn't MAKE him behave the way I wanted, the way that was expected of me.

All blinged out and nowhere to go

So, simple rule.

If my shoulders hurt, stop doing whatever the hell we're doing, walk on a long rein, and figure out what the hell has gone wrong (unless we're going cross country, then all bets are off).  In exchange, mi papi doesn't try to kill me.

Let's start with that and see if that's what I need.  The nice part about having a hurt shoulder is that it will make a great barometer.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

All the good stuff

While I was off being anxious, good stuff happened, too.

I got a saddle plate and matching bridle tag!

The saddle plate is a life saver since there's a nearly identical saddle in the school (Theo's old saddle).  Sure, mine has front gussets and doesn't have a patch on the seat, but in a school program, they're identical.  So now you can tell from a mile away that this is my saddle.  No one was going to mix up my bridle, but I'm all about the matchy matchy.  Swanky Saddle is my source for all things monogram and I love the variety of saddle plates and tags they offer. I wanted something rather bold and unique, but still a monogram.  This fit the bill perfectly.  It's the dressage size which looked huge when it arrived, but on my saddle?  Love it.

You may also spy a new bit.  I've got the Neue Schule Verbindend in 12mm on trial from Dressage Extensions.  Thank goodness for test programs because mi papi takes a 6" in this bit.  Insane!  No bit is going to be a magic bullet, but with this, I am back in the dressage gear and my shoulder is not requiring ice after I ride.  It's about as much snaffle as I can legally use in dressage, which seems to be the right amount.

Also appears to be tasty, we have some foam!

I think I'm going to keep this bit.  It's just enough that I can say 'hey, don't be rude'.  He's accepting it well and plays with it happily.

As far as the riding goes, I've stepped way back in terms of what we're working toward.  We're working on going around with a nice lift through his back and a soft, soft contact.  I'm still requiring him to let me set the flex, but trying to get his neck as long as possible so that he looks like a bow over his topline.  I'm seeing some muscle disappearing in front of his withers, so time to really strengthen that topline with transitions.  Lots of focus on soft, soft, soft.  Leg yield a few steps, pet him for not bracing or trying to invert, go back the other way.  I haven't really worked on my laterals in months, high time we got back to work on that.

And I've broken my left lead canter some how.  Used to be the right, now it's the left.  Thanks, papi.  So I'm picking my way through that, figuring out where exactly he's locked up.  I think I found it in the leg yield along the wall, he was much better after a few passes of that.  His leg yield off the right is so lovely, his left is stuck.  His right lead is good, his left is stuck.  This gives me a good start on isolating the problem.  Tomorrow I'm going to work on shoulder in without him bracing through the neck and poll.  I suspect he's going to try to brace going to left, so we'll start with some shoulder fore and nudge along from there.

But we had a pleasant, productive, non-painful ride in a snaffle.  Score!  Many banana flavored cookies for the pony.  I hate banana, but he's in love with Smartpak's new guilt free cookies.  At least they're good for his waistline.

And then a rain sheet because we have a frost advisory tonight and he's already clipped and it's raining.  UGH.

It can't be blanket season already!!!  I refuse!!!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Struggle bus

Theo and I are on the struggle bus.  I don't like it.

I have an anxiety disorder.  It's diagnosed and managed, but these things tend to do their own thing.  It occasionally decides to rear up and make my life far less pleasant.  I have no idea what set off the episode three weeks ago.  There was no single, concrete event.  Probably a combination of crazy work deadlines, personal life, and my horse.

Yes, I had an anxiety episode over my horse.  It's been building up for awhile as I work through a lot of uncertainty and changes in how I see things and working through the challenges of getting my horse to actually submit to . . . anything.  I actually took a whole week off from the barn, cancelled both of my Mary lessons, the whole shebang.  I went into survival mode.  And while I was out?  Mi papi bucked off his leaser.

By all accounts, it was a little buck and he looked really startled when she actually came off.  It was the sort of thing Trainer A and I sit without noticing.  His leaser didn't know it was coming and was caught off guard.  Trainer A said she saw the signs, but didn't realize he was going to actually act on it.  He didn't do his old trick of running to the barn, he just stood there looking surprised.  His leaser hopped back on, since it was a soft fall, and proceeded to canter him for about 40 minutes to burn off the excess energy.

After that was the decision that she would take a school pony and not Theo on her three day vacation to Vermont.  He's been good enough on her trail rides, but he's always a little up, a little on edge.  Something I don't mind, but for her going on vacation?  Too much risk.  She doesn't have the tool set to manage one of his explosions and there's the other ladies on the trip to consider.

So I went back to riding after my week off.  And my first ride was fantastic.  How did I stress about this?  He's so much fun!

And then on my second ride I tried to add the forward while keeping the connection and he bulldozed through my left shoulder deliberately.  It's still touchy and I'm contemplating actually going to get it evaluated.  Nothing causes anxiety like knowing that something is going to hurt.  Theo has a general policy of 'forward or round, pick one'.  I took too long addressing the training problem and now Theo knows if he truly lays into that left rein, he'll get a release.  And let's be clear, he's not naughty.  It's action/reward. He does the thing, pressure releases, he gets to trot around with his head wherever he wants.  It's clearly what I want!

Except I'm sitting in the saddle with a shoulder that won't cooperate, trying not to lose my temper because my horse is learning the exact wrong thing and I'm in pain.  And then my right shoulder, that has never given me trouble in my life, started to hurt.  He'd generalized and was trying the same thing on the right.  Damn it.  My contact was a disaster area, heavy and evasive.

He spent two weeks in a pelham with two reins.  It gave me the option to ride on the snaffle rein but have the curb rein available when he decided to test my still injured shoulder.  I don't like biting up, but come on, my left arm is going to fall off some day.

But we're coming around the bend.  The attitude problem that comes with the seasons changing is abating.  I'm also picking my way through a fight that should have happened when he was six. The rider does have some say in things like flex, both lateral and longitudinal, and forward.  Theo has been allowed to do whatever the hell he wants his whole life and threatens anyone that says otherwise.  I don't think he was ever properly broke.  I mentioned that to Trainer A and she said 'I think his owner tried and that's how she ended up in the hospital'.  Oh yeah, that's a thing.  Good reminder.

So a couple of things are coming into focus.  I'm not happy, which means something is wrong.  Theo's not too terribly thrilled, either.  So I threw my jumping saddle on, had a jumping lesson, then went out on two trail rides.  When I went back?  I was able to get a nice, soft connection.  I want a long, relaxed neck.  I don't want to fall into the trap of jacking his neck up to get him . . . wherever.  And when I chill, he chills.

So I had a radical thought today.  What if I take a little break from trying to drive him forward into the big, powerful gaits needed to show?  Because a lot of this trouble really comes back to him having to show a lot more forward than what's natural to him.  I mean, there's nothing actually wrong with this canter.  It's just not going to get me a high score.  Maybe I should chill, enjoy, and lock that canter down rather than continuing to shove this along.

What if I just step back and focus on him being active, soft, obedient.  Actually fun to ride again?  Just with the submission to the bit because I'm not letting that go.  He's just so much more pleasant when I'm not trying to make him look like an super powerful warmblood.  Maybe I should take some jumping lessons for awhile, go trail riding in the beautiful fall weather.  He's clipped and ready to roll.

Maybe it's time I actually pull the trigger and buy that western saddle I've been eyeballing and switch him to a working jog and collected lope.  Because the way he wants to move is what they're actually looking for.  And it won't hurt my regular dressage at all, we'll just focus on light and obedient for awhile.   Let's face it, at the lower levels, dressage judges do like to reward harmonious, light, and correct even with smaller gaits.  So long as I fix that connection, my scores should pop right back up.  We've already been rewarded for that change.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.  I need to shake things up before I ruin my years of work on getting mi papi to enjoy his work.  Or I decide that this is just not fun.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Release and reset

When you've had multiple negative rides in a row, there's really only one goal worth working toward:  have a positive ride.  I love the fact that I know mi papi well enough at this point that I can make a positive ride happen.  No matter what's going on, no matter the weather, no matter the causes, I can make a ride pleasant.  I have cookies.  So many cookies.

I got on today with about a quarter pound of treats in my pocket.  I would have a pleasant ride, damn it.

Theo's a positive reinforcement pony, a lot of the progress we've made has been built on pets and cookies.  He has no natural work ethic.  If you punish him, his reaction is basically 'wait until you see what I do to you for that'.  When things get difficult, I can fight with him (and probably lose) or I can go to what I know works.  No trainer I've ever worked with has supported my positive reinforcement training.  Ever.  No One.  They universally roll their eyes and accuse me of spoiling my horse.  So I just do it on my own and ignore the commentary. When they're pleased with the results, I smile and carry on.

After my Saturday ride, we were furious with each other and my left shoulder hurt so much I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get my saddle off.  I said stretch, he said no, I said do it now, he said no, and then I tried to push the matter.  He's stronger than me.  My left shoulder quit and he had me on the ropes.  I was ready to get those draw reins out for the simple reason that he was dragging through the contact, running me into the wall, and getting his rewarding release due to being stronger than me.  I made myself back up, compromise, end in a good spot, and go for a trail ride.  But I was so ready to put a big ol' bit in his mouth and tell him no more!  No more dragging on me until my shoulder fails because you know you can outlast me!  He shouldn't get a reward for pulling until I can't physically stop him!

Today I broke down the negative behavior.  Theo likes to stretch down and release, he's figured that out, but it's not a locked in behavior.  He doesn't really 'get' that I'm looking for that.  It's just an exercise, not a behavior to offer.  I decided to lock that behavior in.  For our warm up, I'd get a big, chewing, to the ankles stretch (with his nose in) in the walk and then he'd get a pet and a cookie.  Repeat about ten times.  Then I sat and waited.  Sure enough, with no action from me, he gave me a big stretch and chew, hanging out there until I pet him and gave him a treat.  And on we went, him offering the behavior and me rewarding it.  I weaned him off of the cookies fairly quickly since it's a behavior he knows and added the cue back in so he did something other than drop his head and chew, but the trick was to get him to do it on his own, to offer the behavior rather than push him into it.  He's the king of offering behaviors when he thinks he'll get a cookie for it.  If he sees it as a thing that I will reward for, he will offer it happily.

I was able to get him walking, trotting, and cantering with a big stretch and a light, non-painful for me contact pretty easily.  He enjoys it, he enjoys being told how smart he is, and he enjoys getting cookies.  It was wonderful to see him chewing away and lots of foam around his bit in both directions.  He was relaxed and happy.  He was also behind my leg.

Now this is the part that's probably going to take me weeks.  I need to add forward without losing the chill.  I played with it today, finding the tipping point between chill and negative tension.  I don't think Theo is good at managing positive tension yet and it all tends to tip over into negative tension.  I start to create positive tension, I start to feel power and forward, and then it snaps and I have a braced, non-existent connection with fast feet.  It's a pretty concrete reaction.  We're good, we're good, we're good, we are DONE.

Okay, I can work with that.  He has a point where he mentally feels like he can't take any more and he quits.  It's ridiculously close to going as slow as molasses in January, but I'm not here to judge.  Okay, yes, I'm totally here to judge, but it's where it is and I need to work with it.  I ditched my whip because that brings in too much negative right now.  I tried gradually building and when he pushed past his previous wall, he got big pats and I removed the pressure.  I wanted him to see that I won't, in fact, press forever.  And with each iteration, I want him to go a little further.  Push a bit more, handle a bit more pressure before I back off again.  And when he just coped?  Pats!  Many pats!  Cookies!  All the good things.

It's going to be slow.  Very slow.  I can get quick feet and power now, but it's braced and pissy or it's due to the influence of another.  Getting him to give me that power without the bracing and negative tension is going to take a lot of time and work.  And cookies and pats.  He doesn't like to work hard, he needs to know that there's something in it for him.  Any behavior can be shaped if you're patient enough and have enough rewards.  I will buy those treats in bulk if that's what it takes.  I did have a few moments of a completely tracking up pony that was also stretching nicely to my hand without my shoulders screaming in pain.  When I got off today, my shoulder felt okay.  And he was like jello again, relaxed and happy.

I'm glad I chose to not get the draw reins out.  This was a better lesson.  I want him to offer the behavior, not be shoved into it.  I can't fall into the trap of taking the mechanical advantage.  If my shoulder is too weak to ride in that heavy of a contact, then I'm just going to have to find another way.  He will always be stronger than me.  I better be smarter than him.  You get more flies with honey.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Two steps forward . . .

One step back.

Not surprisingly, considering someone's sudden behavioral issues and distraction due to being a schoolmaster, we had a setback for our Mary lesson on Friday.  After three lessons were we showed marked improvement, we had a lesson where it was 'what happened?'.  Mi papi was not having it with this idea of stretch down and go forward at the same time.  Just not having it.  It was the exact same stuck feeling I'd been having since he started having his August blow up.  He wasn't going to give and stretch, so you could just go pound sand.

Poor Mary.  She had to get up and chase us with the lunge whip for most of our lesson.  As she put it, it's all I can do to manage the neck right now, someone else has to manage the butt.  Theo had locked me out again.  Not as bad as our first lesson, but not nearly the nice connection we had in our third lesson.  We've had a relapse while trying to find the forward.  It was all we could do to get to the point where we could trot and canter in a stretch in both directions.  My shoulders were absolutely killing me and my left hand was throbbing so much.

Oh, right, I took a massive chunk out of my knuckle on my left hand while cleaning my trailer.  Just my luck.  I was getting some sawdust off the ramp while it was up and managed to bash against the window frame in a perfect way.  Blood.  Everywhere.  I wrapped it up, asked a nurse friend, and was told it wasn't a candidate for stitches.  Elevate, pressure, ice, carry on.  I wore a glove on that hand to make sure the bandaid stayed put.  I looked like Michael Jackson.

So our lesson was brief but brutal.  I got a firm comment on my fitness.  It's fair, I'm only riding three times a week right now.  It won't do.  It's hard to get us both fit at the same time.  I need to ride more, be more fit.  Her working student could have mi papi bouncing along like a firecracker, but she rides seven horses a day.  I remember being that fit.  It was a long time ago.

So we've been ordered back to downtown and to find someone that will chase us with a lunge whip.  It really is the best way to get him popping along as opposed to trying to pop me off.  I didn't find any volunteers last time, now it's a number one priority.  I'm sure I can find someone if I try hard enough.  Who would think it would be hard to find someone to chase me around with a whip?  You'd think I'd have a line!  But yeah, we need to find someone to chase us because holy crap he's powerful once he's done being resistant.  Mary managed to shove us through the wall and get us clicking again.  My goodness he's got a lot to offer once he's going.  Both shoulders were aching, my legs were shaking, my hand throbbing, no damn oxygen, but we got him to stretch to the dirt and chew while cantering.  That woman does not give up.

It's going to be an interesting couple of months.  Mary is traveling at the end of September, so I'm going to do two more lessons in a row.  Yikes.  And then in the beginning of October when both his leaser and I are traveling, I'm dropping him off with Mary for some boot camp.  He's going to get a week or two of 'love' from the working students under Mary's supervision rather than sitting in his field or teaching beginners.  It'll be good for him!  And then Mary can teach me what else I'm doing wrong after Theo's been worked properly for a couple weeks.  Sure, he may eat her barn and try to kill her employees, but I did warn her.  It's ethical to warn her that my horse was pretty dramatic in his dark past and might lose his shit with zero warning.

Today we trail ride.  We've been super intense lately, I want to make sure we keep things positive.  We're coming out the other side of the temper tantrum, I need to make sure he's well rewarded for his return to work.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Falling out of love

I'm sure a lot of people saw this coming, but as a friend told me last night, it looks like I'm falling out of love with Trainer A.

I'm tired of having my lessons rescheduled and bounced around.  I'm tired of feeling like I need to question what I'm being told.  I'm tired of not being ready and not realizing it until I'm already at the show.  I'm definitely tired of feeling like I should hide at shows because I'm there with riders that aren't ready for what they're doing and it's embarrassing. 

It's an awkward situation.  I had a lesson this morning (7am because that was the only availability after my Saturday jumping lesson got cancelled) that wasn't at all positive.  Theo was giving me the stink eye about flexing and going forward at the same time.  It's our latest battle and one that will take awhile since he needs to develop a lot more muscle before it stops being a struggle.  He currently drops behind my leg and then bucks when I use the whip to reinforce my leg.  He'll flex, sure, but only if he can go slow.  He'll go forward so long as he isn't connected and flexing.  Combine the two and it's just too hard for him to deal with because he's a special little princess.

 Very, very special

She wanted me to open my inside rein and guide his muzzle in.  Not like a little bit, because yes, opening up my inside hand is a useful thing to do at times.  She wanted it way open.  I finally threw down and said no, I wouldn't, because I don't want him to break at the shoulder, I want him to break at the poll.  I lose control of the neck when I open my inside rein like that.  I have a very tiny target and I will never, ever get it with an open inside rein.  He's way too good at evading.  I have better results with a correction that's slightly indirect, then release, the way Mary told me to do it.  And if he doesn't give, get after him but you have to release every time.  No 'guiding', he flexes and stays there because he was told to, not because he's being 'guided'.  Sure enough, after a couple of reps, he started to give.  He was just being stubborn about it, trying to see if he could wear me out.  It's his favorite trick.  Once he started to give and chew, we were able to move on in the lesson.  And suddenly she was instructing me to use that half halt to get the flex instead of the open rein.  I think she was genuinely wrong and I'm just now figuring it out.

Theo and I are now pushing our ways through all of the struggles I probably should have had over the past two years.  Submission to the bit, submission to the leg, impulsion, not bucking to get out of work, etc.  The stuff he is most resistant on.  No, do not tell me to slow the tempo right now, I want his hind legs to snap.  I can always slow this horse down, now I need to teach him to pick up the tempo when I ask.  I need both sides of the pendulum.  He's pulling through my left rein, my left shoulder has failed, I need to try something else.  But there's nothing else she can give me to try.  Don't tell me to pick his head up, he'll retract his neck and brace.  Downtown is his home, he only gets to come up when he's relaxed, hauling his head up isn't going to get him off his shoulders all by itself.

I don't like this.  I don't like change, but I also don't like having two disparate views.  And after bumping into Mary at the show where Theo was carting his leaser around, I watched her adult ammy warm up.  She was prepared.  She was very prepared for the level.  Her horse was together and ready to go.  Not perfect, the indoor was super scary!  But definitely prepped and ready to go lay down a trip.  Her student was confident in the work and you could tell it was bread and butter for them.

As my friend said last night, that's what showing is supposed to be.  Not an exercise in survival.  And she was pleased to hear that I was finally remembering that.  Theo may be a half cart horse mutt (or a short angry goat as he was dubbed over beers, another story for another post), but he's a correct mover and perfectly capable of good scores at the lower levels.  Good scores being upper 60's.  If I'm not consistently getting upper 60's at Training, what the hell did I think I was doing at First?  Don't blame the horse, the horse is fine.  You just weren't ready.

Totally not ready and got a 57% to prove it

This is the same friend that tore into me about the spur rubs.  It's important to have educated, honest horse friends.  I wish she didn't live so far away, she'd come out and chase me with a lunge whip to inspire forward any day.  That's a real horse friend.

The realization is settling in and I'm still shifting my viewpoint to this new reality.  I haven't really figured out what to do.  I don't want to change barns, Mary's barn is too fancy and far away so I'd still be trailering out for lessons.  Most barns want you to be in a program with them.  Theo is happy at his barn, with his shed and field and 24/7 turn out and pony to beat up.  I may just need to take a break from my weekly lessons and training ride, take responsibility for my horse's training back.  He'd still have his leaser, but be mostly my problem.

I really hate change.  This may take awhile.  But the process is getting started.